Infant Baptism Never Fails to Generate Letters
Ah, Let’s Talk About Baptism”—maybe some more! I was intrigued by your argument in response to a letter this past week. “While you are waiting for them to make their own decision, do you teach them to pray? Confess sin? Sing psalms and hymns? But why? They are not Christians and you are just instilling hypocrisy.” This seems to be the same logical foundation that the pro-secularism, anti-theonomy Christians might use to justify their own position: that teaching unregenerate civilians Christian virtues and values likewise promotes hypocrisy. To be sure, “civilians vs toddlers” isn’t a 1:1 parallel, but it seems odd to me that your argument against baptists could so easily boomerang back around to your argument for enshrining Christian values in a society, and, unfortunately, bonk it on the head. (Meanwhile, us theonomy-loving baptists are sitting here watching the boomerang fly back around and have never been happier to think teaching God’s law to both children and citizens, Christian or no, is a great idea.) :)
Michael, thanks, but not quite. For example, we admit non-Christian kids at Logos School, and I have no difficulty saying that we expect Christian behavior from them at a “civic virtue” level. You don’t knock people down in the hallway because this is a Christian school. But I wouldn’t have one of those kids lead prayer at an assembly because that is in a different category. So I don’t see any inconsistency if Baptist parents were to require the kids (regenerate or not) to refrain from biting or scratching. But teaching them to sing Jesus Loves Me, This I Know when the parents teaching the song know nothing of the kind regarding them is quite different. And if the parents do know that the child is loved by Jesus, then it is time to baptize him.
In a recent response to Josh you said,
“While you are waiting for them to make their own decision, do you teach them to pray? Confess sin? Sing psalms and hymns? But why? They are not Christians and you are just instilling hypocrisy.”
Is it a forced choice situation? Is there an option, like your father, to raise your children according to the promises while waiting to baptize them until they have confessed with their own lips that Jesus is Lord and that they believe in their own hearts that God raised Him from the dead?
If that is a permissible option for Christian parenting, why is it not the preferred method? What do you gain by baptizing them as infants? If one can believe the promises without applying the water, what would lead a parent to apply the water without an explicit command to do so when they could raise their children according to the promises and apply the water after a credible confession of faith has been made in accordance with what we do see in Scripture?
I understand that we have no examples of second generation Christians in the writings of the NT, but why would we assume that they begin baptizing their children? I am genuinely attempting to work through this and am trying to be as willing for it to be true as I can be (much as you report you were when originally approaching Calvinism from an Arminian bent). I don’t have a particular horse in the race in needing or wanting paedo or credo baptism to be true, but wanting to understand what legitimate options exist for a Christian parent.
This may be more exhaustive than a Tuesday letter reply can warrant. Please consider an Ask Doug follow up where you walk through what you anticipate to be the sticking points for us 1689 Reformed Baptists types who believe the promise of God and say a hearty and enthusiastic, “Amen!” to Standing on the Promises, but haven’t been able to see the reason to jump to infant baptism as a result. Would you even urge one to it or is it the promise-believing rearing part which encapsulates most the impetus (much like I’ve heard you say that the “optimism” is the sine qua non of Biblical eschatology more than the specific position of postmillennialism per se).
All that to say, could you lay out what you believe are our best questions and concerns and then address them directly, straight up the middle?
Appreciate you and all that you do.
Todd, thanks. That is what I tried to do in To a Thousand Generations.
Thank you for your wise and timely words in these unsettled days. Thank you also for reprinting the Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos. I just published a book with OUP that argues that the clergy who supported political resistance to the British during the American Revolution did so in continuity with the long history of Reformed resistance thought found in the Vindiciae, etc. If you are interested, it comes out next week and can be found here:
You also might be interested in my book on J. W. Alexander’s rejection of secular forms of social reform in the antebellum period.
Would you ever be interested in coming to the Denver area and speaking to our students? We’d love to have you. May the Lord continue to bless your pen and pulpit!
Gary, thanks. If the schedule ever worked out, I would happy to do something like that. And your books look fascinating, and I already ordered them.
A Verbal Typo?
These questions are about something you said on “Do I Need a Seminary Degree to Be a Pastor” (and although this video is, in a sense, none of my business I was curious to see what you had to say).
Are you someone who has read the Bible through 100 times in a year?
What is the most times you have read the Bible through in a year?
Robert, something about your question makes me think I might have gotten tang tungled. Did I say 100 times in year? If so, mea culpa. I have probably read the entire Bible through about twenty times, and in addition to that the New Testament around fifty times.
Several years ago I used to listen to a podcast that Russell Moore put out on traditional country music. I actually enjoyed it. Makes me think he missed his calling spinning records in a small Alabama town.
Ron, thanks. Do you remember the name of the podcast?
On starting a short term rental property household biz –
Recently read “Man of the House” by C.R. Wiley, and was inspired to look into rental properties as a potential household-owned business. You wrote about the tyranny of AirBNB here (and several followups as well). I wanted to get your take on throwing in with another service like VRBO. Seems like after one well-publicized case of a known LGBTQ++++ orgy group getting turned down by some sane host is all it would take for VRBO to be bullied into copy-pasting AirBNB’s “no Christian consciences allowed (sic – translation by me)” style Terms and Conditions. Right now VRBO appears to be more generic and level-headed in their “Inclusion” clause, “Nondiscrimination” heading (read: no one say anything that upsets anyone else, otherwise carry on):
“A place for everyone leaves no room for hate. If you mistreat people, there’s no space for you on Vrbo. Everyone deserves to be where kindness rules. We expect all members of our community to demonstrate respect and tolerance in all interactions with each other—both online and off-line—and we reserve the right to remove anyone from our marketplace who fails to abide by these principles.”
With the direction things are headed, seems like any online short term rentals could be inherently a bad investment option for Christians who reserve the right to cancel bookings and refuse guests based on potential Colorado Cake type scenarios. Thoughts on this? Any way to move forward with the short term rental biz via one of these listing sites and not risk the entire business model based on the next planned stop on our Grand Woke Adventure?
Patrick, I agree, especially when it comes to high turnover rentals likes B&Bs. If you have a house to rent out, you only have to navigate renting it out every year or two, and could probably do that easily if you do it via word of mouth.
Resources on Death
Someone named AA was inquiring about resources on death. One title which immediately came to mind, though I have not read it, was A Believer’s Last Day, His Best Day by Thomas Brooks. While searching for that I came across Death by Thomas Boston and I suddenly remembered a more modern one that was a great help to my pastor when his wife died, Grieving, Hope, and Solace: When a Loved One Dies in Christ by Al Martin.
Will, thank you very much.
A Complicated Situation
I have really enjoyed your commentary in regards to Covid-19 and Romans 13. I have a question about my scenario with my former Church. I was put under church discipline for deciding to leave the church over masks. I did not leave because the masks but because we were not gathering in person for months. I struggled with depression and got a lot of needed help from other I would say right minded Christians. My former pastor believed I was prideful because I did not want to wear a mask in another person’s home who did not have a problem with me not wearing a mask. When I asked if I would be put under church disciple he said that I was being prideful. Now I am kicked out and shunned.
The problem now is that my wife still attends because she believes I am wrong in regards to Romans 13 and left the church in a wrong way. My former pastor desires to baptize my wife even though she was baptized as an infant. My wife wants to be baptized again but I am still working through baptism theologically. My concern is that my former pastor who has been heavy handed with COVID is using my wife’s baptism as a manipulation tool because you know It’s hard not to attend my wife’s baptism. I have read all your books on marriage. I plan on confronting my former pastor on this but I need help with this situation. What would you do in my circumstance?
Just so you know I tried staying at this church for a while and going to church in the afternoons. I believed the church has the gospel but the straw that broke me was the pastor going into a realm of authority I don’t believe he has. I would not have left the church if there wasn’t heavy handedness. My wife is a rule follower by nature. I don’t want to demand submission for her to follow me but i struggle with whether or not i should. She is a sweet woman and she is typically very submissive to me. She and I disagree with this one issue. I hope that helps you understand.
PP, I would encourage you to seek out some wise Christians where you live who are not connected to your former church, and ask your wife not to do anything rash (like getting baptized) unless you work through some marriage counseling together.
Different Stories to Inspire
My ten-year-old daughter threw me off tonight when we were reading about dragons (because why not!), she asked “Well why can’t the girl be the one to kill the dragon?” And my answer was “uhhh . . . well . . . uhh” and that was about it. I can think of plenty of young men who would run away wetting themselves and screaming at the first sign of a dragon and several ladies who could stand fast against the dragon. So what would you have said in my spot?
See I have prepared myself intensely for the raising of my boys, knowing the temptation to laziness, lust, and a host of other issues I have dealt with or have helped boys deal with. But when it comes to raising my daughter, my wife and I think the world’s push to shape young women is equally insidious and harder to track because it is everywhere (movies, music, commercials, family members). How did you raise them? Can you give me some good resources along with the Bible that we can read to help us with this enormous task of raising a Godly young woman? I know just a few easy questions…
Thank you for your time
Jon, what I think you should do is study what the Bible teaches regarding the heroic behavior of women, and the different shape that their heroism takes. I am thinking of women like Jael, and Deborah, and Esther.
Another COVID Thing
I hope you are well and I appreciate your work. Keep it up.
I feel convinced that I need to take a stand and it may lead to me losing my job.
I do not think it is ok (even though it is legal) to require unvaccinated people to wear a mask and social distance, but allow vaccinated people to go back to normal. My company is following CDC recommendations.
From what I understand, black people had to drink from other fountains because they were “contagious.” I feel like the Lord is telling me to politely rebel in order to defend the people at my work who do not have a voice. There are a lot of people at my work who do not feel comfortable taking a vaccine and now feel bullied into having it.
I am nervous though and don’t know if I am stubborn and foolish or if there is something I should do.
Luke, just a couple comments. Don’t bet what you are not willing to lose, and don’t start what you can’t finish. Other than that, go for it.
When the Man Comes Around
I am enjoying your book thoroughly . . . It is what I I have pondered, wondered and researched for many years but your book puts it all together and one beautiful package. Quick question: On page 252 you mentioned that the gemstones on the holy Jerusalem are the precious stones associated with the signs of the zodiac but in reverse order . . . I wrote down the 12 stones on the holy Jerusalem but also the 12 stones of the Zodiac and reversed but they are not the same. Only four are the same word but even I thought maybe the colors were the same but different words? I’m just wondering if you could point me in the right direction. Because from what I’m seeing they aren’t the same and I don’t want to present a case if I can’t back it up. Thank you!
Carrie, thanks for checking that. I believe my source for that was the New Bible Dictionary, the one that was published back in the seventies.
I just read your article “Playing a Doctor on TV is Better Than Playing a Preacher in the Pulpit”… it was AWESOME! I am the first pastor in the country to sue the government over the faux pandemic lockdown lies that assaulted our churches and the first amendment at the same time (Cassell v. Pritzker). I spent the better part of six months being publicly and openly vilified by the media AND persecuted by the “Christians” and their leaders. Thank you for stating truth in an eloquent way.
I recently discovered your books and website through the “How to Exasperate Your Wife” ad that popped up on the Babylon Bee. I bought your book and really appreciate it. I do apologize if my question has been addressed in a prior talk, as I’ve only just started listening and reading.
I am 34 years old with a wife and two children. I am a Christian man persuaded by Reformed doctrine. And I’ll now get to the point: What is your take on the modern remedies/groups/programs to help men break an addiction to pornography? What would you recommend and what would say to avoid?
I’ve been addicted since the age of 17 and have tried counseling, accountability groups, “LIFE Recovery” groups, Samson Society, removing all access to the internet from my household, turning my wife into my accountability partner and so forth. The closest I ever came to breaking out was reading Addiction: Banquet in the Grave by Ed Welch and then creating a daily application of the principles. I continue to look for the silver bullet that I know does not exist.
I am stuck. Somehow, I know that God’s Word should suffice and that I’m getting this process all wrong. That if I pressed in hard enough for long enough I would get out. I am not asking for your pity, but your wisdom. Even if that is just to call me a knucklehead. Please spell it out of this knucklehead.
Thomas, I would encourage you to seek out pastoral help. But I would ask the pastor to start with areas where you might not need help—discipline, work ethic, attitude toward women, relationship with your father and mother, etc. Porn should be on the list, but not on the top of the list.
Hello! I’ve recently come across some of your older talks on slavery, the War Between the States, and the issues the American people have faced downstream of that. It’s become plain to me that my understanding of all of this history is severely lacking; my working understanding of the history has to this point has consisted of South/slavery = bad, North/abolition = good.
What books would you recommend as I begin my studies in this fascinating era? I’m not sure what sources are trustworthy.
Nathan, I would encourage you to read two kinds of books. One set would be books by partisans, taking them with a grain of salt. You wouldn’t be buying everything you read, but rather would be hearing both sides out (Prov. 18:17). The South Was Right by Kennedy would be an example. The second category of books would be more scholarly and objective. I would recommend A Consuming Fire by Eugene Genovese and The Civil War as Theological Crisis by Noll. And don’t forget my Black & Tan.
This is a long, but very detailed and informative military analysis of the Pentagon UFO backstory, ahead of this month’s “disclosure.”
Rather than aliens, it persuasively argues that Russia/China are, and have been, engaged in drone black-ops activities on the US East Coast during the past decade.
It’s written by Tyler Rogoway, an American aviation intelligence expert.
Brendan, thanks very much.
The Problem of Having No Problem Passages
In an attempt to have no “problem passages,” I have encountered a problem. I’m sure it is standard fare for this particular problem, but I am wondering how you and others have navigated it. It has to do with women in leadership. I am reading this book called Slaves, Women and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis by William J. Webb. The look on the face of the librarian checking me out could have stolen the soul of a kitten at 100 yards.
To give a brief summary, Webb talks about trajectories of Scripture compared to the surrounding culture in the three areas listed in the title. The treatment of slaves in the OT compared to the surrounding cultures of the ANE was better and had a general trajectory of increasing freedom and equality. Same thing with women. This trajectory is continued in the NT compared to the surrounding Roman culture.
The problem basically comes down to why there is increasing freedom and equality through to the present day in regards to slavery, where it seems we have gotten “snagged” on the equality of women, particularly with the prohibition to preach and be elders. If this trajectory of increasing freedom and equality exists, why did we stop at church leadership? Why not assume the prohibition in Paul’s letters was cultural, having the purpose of its directive not hampering the spread of the gospel? A female in authority over a male as a pastor would certainly be too much for 1st century culture to handle, but as Western culture has progressed to nearing complete equality, why not give women that last little push and allow them to shepherd?
Webb then addressed the “pre-fall” rebuttal of primogeniture, which he contends is the basis of Paul’s argument in 1 Tim 2:13. Since Adam was made first, this gives him a higher status. Then he proceeds to talk about how primogeniture is, at best, given an honorary nod in our culture, but other than that is not meaningful, and therefore the hierarchy with man on top is not meaningful.
So that is where I am stuck. I don’t want to base my belief on an argument from conjecture of mere trajectory, but I do seem to do so with the slavery thing. So why not women as well? I also don’t want to conflate slavery and women, because they are different things altogether. I have several friends who I realized are going to a church that have women pastors and the church essentially uses the same arguments as Webb, so it’s stickin’ in my craw.
Any help or direction would be appreciated.
Thank you for your time,
Tim, the issue is not whether there is a trajectory involved. It is inesacapable—not whether a trajectory, but which trajectory. For Christians, we can accept that there is a trajectory of increasing liberation from slavery because that is something the Bible explicitly teaches. Proclaim liberty to the captives. But this is a trajectory we can accept because it is exegetically derived. Other trajectories (Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall) we must reject because they are imported into the text.